Step away from the powder compact.

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In the makeup realm, foundation is secretly the trickiest product to master. To be fair, it’s all hard enough as it is. (Anyone else deal with the dreaded late-afternoon mascara raccoon eyes? Just me?)

For some, applying eye makeup proves most problematic; for others, it’s finding a long-wear lip color that won’t bleed or melt allover by lunch. But foundation—oh, it’s the real silent swindler, especially as we get older. Why? How? Let's talk. 

Here are 6 foundation mistakes that are secretly making you look older.

Mistake #1: You’re using the wrong foundation finish

As we age, our skin loses collagen and elasticity and starts appearing more dehydrated. If you’ve always used a mattifying or satin finish foundation, it might now exacerbate the look of dryness, fine lines, and dull skin. Instead, go for hydration!

Pick a formula with added hydration benefits, such as Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Tint. Or if you’re looking for an antiaging option, go for Estée Lauder Perfectionist Youth-Infusing Makeup SPF 25. It’s fortified with an antiaging serum.

Mistake #2: You’re not using primer

Does your foundation settle into all of your fine lines and wrinkles? Does it slide off your face by noon? Does it make you want to chuck your makeup bag in the trash and never use foundation again? The answer to all of your problems is primer.

We recommend a non-drying formula like It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Oil-Free Makeup Primer. It keeps your skin quenched and your makeup in place all day.  

Mistake #3: You’re using foundation that’s too light

Another side effect of collagen loss: Skin starts looking thinner and more dull. (As always, lucky us.) If you move too far into the light foundation range (and away from your natural skin tone), things will start looking…pallid. Let’s put some life into that face, Grace!

Always test your foundation color on your jawline to make sure you’ve found the perfect match. Luckily, makeup brands have come a long way as far as inclusion. Clinique Even Better Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 15—need that sun protection!—offers over 60 shades to choose from. Pick a shade that’s spot-on, and then lightly brush bronzer on your cheeks for a natural glow.

Mistake #4: You’re using foundation that oxidizes and turns orange

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Oompa Loompa orange. This occurs for one of two reasons. First, you’ve simply picked a shade too dark or warm-toned for your skin tone. Luckily, this is an easy fix. Always test potential shades on your wrist or jawline to make sure you’re picking the correct tone or shade.

Second, it could be that your foundation (which is hopefully a hydrating formula) is reacting with your natural skin oils and oxidizing. Worry not: Using a primer will create a barrier between your skin and the foundation to alleviate the problem.  

Mistake #5: You’re not applying foundation correctly

Listen up: Don’t use your fingers. Don’t you dare! Say hello to your new friend, the Beauty Blender. Because how you're applying foundation is just as important as which foundation you're applying. 

If you’ve always used your fingers to apply foundation, now is the time to kick the habit. With each passing year, we’re working with a unique (and hard-earned!) set of fine lines and wrinkles. The name of the game is blending and distributing product evenly, and that’s where a makeup sponge beats out your digits every time.

Our ultimate tip: Dampen the makeup sponge before using quick, feather-light taps to create a hydrated, flawless finish.

Mistake #6: You’re still using a powder foundation

We all have a memory tucked away from childhood of a powdery, overly blushed woman sitting in the church pew in front of us or cornering our mom into conversation at the grocery store. Was she nice? Yes. Chalky? Sadly, also yes.

Since our skin naturally becomes increasingly dry and dehydrated as we get older, a powder foundation only makes things worse. It settles into all of your fine lines, and the matte texture finish instantly ages you. Avoid, avoid, avoid!

WATCH: 9 Eye Makeup Mistakes That Are Secretly Making You Look Older

Foundation is a year-round staple for Southern women, and we're never too proud for a few extra tips and tricks. What's yours?

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